The Sudan Animal Rescue Centre on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum may be forced to put the animals down unless the current military fighting stops. There are more than 200 animals of 30 different species at the sanctuary, which is close to a military base and no longer has running water and electricity. Most of the animals at the sanctuary are local wild animals, such as lions, hyenas, wild cats, and foxes. On 18th January 2020, five lions, two hyenas and other animals were found in a very critical state in a local zoo in Khartoum, so Sudanese animal protectors decided to create a sanctuary to rescue them with the help of the non-profit animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS.
Osman Salih, who founded the centre, said to the BBC that some of the smaller animals had broken free after the shelling, and a bomb fell near the lions’ enclosure which created an opening. He said in an interview on 25th April, “The situation is extremely critical. Without electricity, we can’t pump water into our tanks, we can’t distribute water into the water network for the cages; we can’t reach the sanctuary every day because of the fuel shortage right now and the insecurity of the place. Also, our staff can’t stay and spend the night in the sanctuary because it is very close to a conflict zone and a military base.”
The fighting that erupted in the country in April 2023 is a direct result of a power struggle within the country’s military leadership. The clashes are between the regular army and a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Since the 2021 coup, Sudan has been run by a council of generals, led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces and in effect the country’s president and his deputy and leader of the RSF, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The violence follows days of tension as members of the RSF were redeployed around the country in a move that the army saw as a threat.